Dethroning the Dethroners
The party line on the advent of the British Invasion beginning in January of 1964 with the onslaught of the Beatles – followed closely by many other invaders, was that the day “I Want to Hold Your Hand” hit the top spot, that scores of up-til-then popular american groups and singers saw their career’s go south.
Probably true enough for many artists but generalizations are always a bit risky. Here is a brief glimpse at those first explosive year of 1964 when the Brits launched a full scale ‘attack’ on American shores.
January 18th, 1964
The Beatles slip into the Hot 100 with an impressive number 45 showing. Bobby Vinton sits at number 1 for the third straight week with his second number one showing “There! I’ve Said It Again”. It was his 3rd chart topper up to that point in time – following “Roses Are Red” – Bobby’s debut Hot 100 recording which peaked in mid 1962. “Roses Are Red” was composed by pop singer Paul Evans.
Vinton’s second number 1 came in the summer of 1963 – “Blue Velvet”. Vinton would hold onto the top spot for one additional week after the arrival of the Beatles – who were now hot on Bobby’s heels – poised to strike at number 3 on January 25th.
It was all over but the shouting – The Beatles captured the flag on February 1st where they would remain for seven straight weeks before being moved aside by – yep – the Beatles with “She Loves You”.
As for Vinton…. He would not suddenly vanish – returning to the Top 10 in February with “My Heart Belongs To Only You” and then in the fall of 1964 would move comfortably back into the top spot with “Mr. Lonely”. Bobby’s Mr. Lonely would nudge Lorne Greene’s “Ringo” out of the top spot – and yes – by RCA Victor’s own admission the title “Ringo” – albeit referring to a gun slinger – received a boost inadvertently due to the popularity of the Fab Four’s cuddly drummer.
Meanwhile – back in early April, 1964 the Beatles were busy displacing themselves. “Can’t Buy Me Love” would topple a two-week-run at number by “She Loves You” and hold the spot for five straight weeks.
May 9th, 1964
To who would gain the honor of being the first act to knock the Beatles out of the top spot in the U.S.A. Had to be a rocker! Right?
Nope – It would be a jazz legend – Louis Armstrong – who would experience his first ever (and last) number 1 song with “Hello Dolly”. My mother bought the single – and I think this was a well organized conspiratorial movement on the part of the Baby Boomer parents to take back the charts!
Armstrong had never before entered the nation’s Top 10 and would never do it in the future.
May 30th, 1964
The Beatles didn’t rest on their laurels for long. “Love Me Do” took number one on May 30th – a short one week run – moving Mary Wells out of the spot with her “My Guy”.
“My Guy” was Mary’s only number 1 Hot 100 hit but she would return the Top 20 with her next two singles and chart 10 more times – though modestly. Her early Motown glory years were behind her but she had risen to the top impressively during the height of Beatlemania!
(Side note: Mary had been a highly successful artist on Billboards R&B charts entering the Top 10 ten straight times with three number one recordings. Before she was finished with her career would log an additional five Top 20 R&B’s!
“Can’t Buy Me Love” was displaced by a Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich monster hit “Chapel of Love” which ran for three consecutive weeks before being shoved aside on June 27th, 1964 by – yep – a Lennon and McCartney collaboration “A World Without Love” by fellow Brits Peter and Gordon.
(Side note – The Brits didn’t completely run the Dixie Cups off the pop charts – They would enjoy four more appearances – three coming in 1964 while surrounded by English men and women.)
August 1st, 1964
At the midway point of the British-American battle – America’s standbys – the Four Seasons would slide into the top spot – moving another iconic group out of the number one position – the Beach Boys and “I Get Around”. “Rag Doll” remained at number 1 for two weeks before “A Hard Day’s Night moved into place.
The Seasons were hardly obliterated during the British Invasion – in 1964 alone they would chart nine times – a career for 90 percent of any other group. 28 more hits would follow – several Top 10’s. It wasn’t the same as their early Vee Jay days when they scored three quick number one’s – but it wasn’t bad at all.
August 15th, 1964
A Hard Day’s Night was bumped after a short two-week run by long-time recording artists Dean Martin with “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime”.
I suspect that – like our parent’s choice of Louis Armstrong to take on the Beatles, Mom and Dad struck again elevating Deano to his second a final appearance at number 1 – his first coming back in early 1956 with “Memories Are Made Of This”. Martin came close in 1953 when “That’s Amore” reached number 2.
Dean’s career enjoyed a resurgence after “Everybody” – charting repeatedly for the Frank Sinatra founded label – Reprise.
December 26th, 1964
The Beatles would finish off a legendary recording year in late December with their 30th and 31st Hot 100 songs – the number 1 “I Feel Fine” along with the flip side “She’s a Woman” which came in at number 4.
This time the Beatles would displace the second most successful group of 1964 – the darling Supremes and their 3rd straight number 1 – “Come See About Me”.
The Beatles certainly didn’t drive the Supremes from the charts – three additional number one’s would follow in 1965 – two each in 1966 and 1967 and a total of 42 Hot 100 recordings (counting Holiday releases) during the prime Beatles’ years.
And so – certainly many pop singers of the day would suffer declining record sales and popularity due to the British Invasion – (The recordings shown below all reached number 1 during 1964-1965 with many others peppering the Hot 100).
But life would go on – America would recover – 1965 would usher in a a counter-attack with the likes of the Byrds, the Turtles, Bob Dylan, the good old Beach Boys, the Four Tops and even Sonny and Cher – two veterans of the pop scene pre Fab Four.